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South Africa - Cape Town

by Jacco Budding in Travel and weekendtrips , 09 januari 2005


If South-Africa is the world’s ‘Rainbow Nation’, than Cape Town has to be its ‘Reigning Queen’!

Just a while ago I had my eye on a very pleasant gesture from the airline company Lufthansa. In an advertising campaign of Lufthansa two attractive looking men were shown at the Table Mountain, at first individually and finally together. We, gays are also doing well in advertising! Rousing my interest - I really had to get myself to South Africa - the only remaining question was: where?


The clause “Freedom of Sexual Preferences” included in the constitution ten years ago, and the proud advertising poster had made me curious about the ins and outs of the gay scene at the other side of the world. I was going to compare here and there. I chose for the capital city, Cape Town.
After a good drink I got myself on the plane. The total time of travelling would be approximately fourteen hours. After dinner I popped a sleeping tablet together with a drink down my throat, and subsequently I arrived in Cape Town the next day at 12.15 PM. Beforehand I had already contacted a guide who would escort me during my short but intensive trip to Cape Town.




Waterkant Village

After I had taken my luggage from the belt and had arranged a visa quickly, I walked towards the arrival lounge. There I meet Tim, my guide to Cape Town. Immediately he throws a little pink bag towards me and says: “Here’s your pink welcome gift.” The packet consists of all kinds of information about gay Cape Town. While we get into the car, for a second my eye is caught by the pretty decoration on the car door. All personages from The Wizard of Oz are portrayed, although in a masculine version, and underwritten is the text “Friends of Dorothy.” This seems to be an informal name for male members of the family. To be honest, it sounds better to me than homo, queer or faggot do. Let’s stick to this name!



On our way to Cape Town we stop on the motor way for a minute to take a picture. From here the view of the Table Mountain is very impressive. While we continue our journey Dorothy’s friend Tim tells me that Cape Town has a real gay-area called “Waterkant Village.”

In my welcome gift I find a map of this area. All streets have Dutch names like Waterkant, Buitengracht and Strand Street. Funny, when I arrived with the plane I already had to laugh when I saw the South-African (Old Dutch) way of spelling “International Airport.”

Almost all the gay bars and clubs are in the Village. There are many small though very luxurious hotels and apartments. So if you would like to be close to the scene, it’s recommendable to find yourself an accommodation in the Village. Tim takes me to the reception of a nice small apartments-complex. The price per night here starts at R 400 depending on the luxury and the time of year.



The South-African Rand is 0.13 euros, so for a price starting at forty euro per night you can have a nice accommodation, providing everything you’ll need. This location is in the middle of Cape Town’s pink area! My apartment is at Napier 53 and within a stone’s throw distance from nightclubs with names as “Bronx,” “Sliver & Confession,” and - for the leather guys - “Bar Code.”

My apartment looks neat and tidy and has a nicely decorated bathroom, an extra toilet, a roof terrace and an inviting bedroom with a double bed. I’m traveling alone so I’ll need to work a bit harder to have two persons sleeping in this bed, a task I don’t mind doing at all. But first I would like to do something cultural. I check the Pink Map for things to see. Because of the immediate confrontation with the Table Mountain at my arrival, I decided to visit this one for a closer inspection.


Because I like to orientate myself for 360 degrees, I call WanderWoman, listed on the Pink Map, for information about sightseeing the Table Mountain.

A friendly woman’s voice tells me there will be an excursion starting at 03.00 PM. I can participate by announcing myself at the bottom of the cable car.

Ten minutes after I’ve called my Friend of Dorothy, he’s already in front of my door to take me to the Table Mountain. The guide welcomes me with a big hug. There are even nice lesbians in Cape Town.

In a couple of minutes the cable car takes you to the top of the Table Mountain. Once you’re up there, the beautiful panorama view over the impressive city, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean surprises you. The world seas come together here. After a short satisfying hop around, the guide invites me for a drink. I’m astonished to see they’re offering me a bottle of Champaign and some South-African snacks. In an animating way Amiene of WanderWoman tells me about the gay life in Cape Town. She also happens to be active in the organization of Cape Town Pride and she’s able to arrange a meeting for me with the organizers of the yearly mega parties.



Coincidently there happens to be a meeting this afternoon; I ask her if it’s possible to join into this meeting. It takes one phone call to arrange this and I need to hurry myself to get there in time. I settle a dinner date for the next evening; so that she also can inform me about the organization of Cape Town Pride.

Mother City Queer Project

When I arrive at the bottom of the mountain, my good Golden Retriever, Tim, is already waiting for me. I’m impressed by his punctuality and his big smile. I ask him to accompany me to the meeting of MCQP. I’m supposed to meet them at the Company Gardens, which are located at the foot of the Table Mountain. This year at 18 December the eleventh edition of the theme parties will be taking place at this location.

MCQP stands for “Mother City Queer Project.” Since 1994, when the clause “Freedom of Sexual Preferences” was included in the constitution, this organization started the yearly mega celebration parties, which attract about a rough eight-thousand visitors. Former parties had themes like “Locker Room” (1994), “Shopping Trolley” (1997), and “Toy Box” (2000); this year the theme will be “Jungle Fever.”



At these parties it’s important that everybody comes dressed up conform the theme. The photographs of former parties show me that everybody respects the dress-code. This year it’s the idea that you’ll enter the party by a cat-walk, dressed up to the theme “Jungle Fever.” So you’ll be the show of the party.

On 18 December the party will take place, so for those among us who don’t want to miss this extravagant twenty-four-hour celebration of homosexuality; you better start packing now. There will be eight dance floors and forty DJ’s will take care of the music. The music will be varying from Handbag House to Cheeky-Cha-Cha and Golden-Oldies-Galore.

Drunkenness and New Friends

A quick shave, grooming, hit the shower and back in the car twenty minutes later; I’m on my way to Hotel Metropole, where I’ll visit a cocktail meeting and have dinner. It’s a real design hotel, with a stately white entrance, here and there filled with a designer item in contrasting colors. Upstairs in the M-Bar & Lounge the entrance is like Sex in the City. The seats of the stools are designed in vivid red crocodile-leather and the small poufs in red ostrich-leather; here and there some dark wood for variation. Positioned against a mirrored war in all its beauty there’s a Versace suite.

In short: nicely whorish though intimate and in style. The servants are male and tasty! They’re dressed in a stylish but still tempting way, perfectly outlining the cocktail-shaking biceps! Here I meet Noki Dube. She is the executive manager of DMO, which stands for Destination Marketing Organization. This organization is in charge of putting Cape Town on the market.



She turns out to be a real strapping woman in marketing, in the most positive way. She informs me that homosexuals are seen as one of the main target groups for the expansion of activities in tourism. She introduces me to Reinhardt of Our Way Travel & Safaris, a travel organization which is specialized in gay Cape Town.

After a delicious fresh Kiwi-Martini in a huge cocktail glass Reinhardt and I get ourselves to the table for dinner. To my delight, are the party animals of MCQP also present. A long table with delicious haute cuisine and the heavy South-African Merlot wine flowing, make the gathering with this animated company the perfect start of a long night. To crown it all, the hunk of the cocktail bar offers us a shooter named “Blowjob.” Finally I can show our South-African friends my European deep-throat skills. The evening ends in drunkenness with a lot of new friends; we got on very well together.




Safari

The night before, Reinhardt had organized a safari for me. At 6.15 AM I’m picked up for a two-hour journey inland. At arrival I’m treated with a Mimosa, a mix of Champaign and fresh orange juice, and I can sit down at the table to join in on a delicious and extensive breakfast buffet. I still have a hangover from the night before; so it seems important to have a good breakfast, because I don’t want to miss anything of the wildlife later on. After breakfast I leave for a four hour safari arranged by Our Way Travel & Safaris starting from “Aquilla-Reservaat en Safaris.”

With a jeep and a nice boy and girl as guides (who seem like they just walked out of a documentary on Discovery Channel) we leave for the 4500 hectares nature reserve Aquila. Driving through the rough landscape I find myself in short distance from springboks, ostriches, crocodiles and hippopotamuses. Later on we make a short stopover to have (again) champagne, local nuts and dried fruits. We continue our safari and I’m enjoying the unreal impressions I experience over here. We meet zebras, giraffes, rhinoceroses, the blue and the black bison. How beautiful it must have been over here when mankind wasn’t predominating.



After the safari I’m having an extra hour to dive into the ice cold swimming pool, and immediately a waitress appears, providing me with a drink. I’m playing for a while with the meerkats who randomly are jumping by.
Depending on transport and duration of the safari, you can already have a one-day safari for R 570 (E 74.10).

Gay Pride

Back in Cape Town I freshen up myself for my date with “WanderWoman” Amiene, who’s actively involved with the organization of Cape Town Pride, “our freedom of sexuality.” We meet in the Glen Boetiek Hotel. It’s an intimate hotel with a hamam (Turkish bath) under construction. Over a good Gin and Tonic I’m absorbed in fantasies about an orgy in this bathhouse.

In my opinion, any location scout of the porn industry would die to have this location. Back to my senses, the hotel rooms are being shown to me; they’re styled to the minimum, though completely functional, and due to the use of natural fabrics and materials it all sends out a relaxed atmosphere.



Over some delicious finger food I’m listening to a presentation about Cape Town Pride 2005. Pride will take place from 18 till 27 February 2005. Apart from many festivities and the closing parade trough the streets of Waterkant Village, there will also be organized: gay art exhibitions, a football tournament, viewings of South-Africa’s best gay movies and a constructing day for the float of the closing parade. Next several gay-cruises will be organized year for the first time. Here in Cape Town there’s cooperation and the motto is “Together we’re strong!” Gays and lesbians are still standing up for each other here, while in Holland it seems like the mentality of homosexuals is drowsing.

Cape of Good Hope

The next day, after a long and pleasant night with one of the locals, I’m allowed to sleep in until 08.30 AM. At 09.00 AM exactly my Friend of Dorothy, the guide Tim, stands in front of my door again. We’ve planned a tour along the coastline in the direction of Cape of Good Hope. First we pass by four small beaches separated by big rocks. At the third beach are the gay people while at beach number four you’ll find the models. So at beach number three and four of Clifton Beach you can certainly enjoy yourself. I was wondering why there are models in South-Africa. It seems that South-Africa happens to be the scene for many commercials and movies, so next to tourism this source of income takes a big place in the economy.

On our way to our next stop, Cape of Good Hope, it all gets clear to me; I feel like I’m in some kind of car commercial, driving by deep abysses which end up in the ocean, plenty of leg room and enough space for extra passengers, such as the locals you’ve picked up. Therefore many of these commercials were shot over here. Once we’ve arrived at Cape of Good Hope I’m taking the cable car upwards, to have a good view over this Cape. There are strong winds and the sea is rough. We are continuing our tour towards Boulders, a beach with huge rocks in front of the coast, where many penguins are walking around.



For lunch we drive to one of the many botanical gardens of Cape Town. Here you’ll have a good impression of the way Jan van Riebeeck has encountered South-Africa when he moored for the first time. It’s a true paradise with a flora and fauna of many colors and pretty shapes: “The Land of Adam and Steve!”

Scantily Dressed Rascals

Unfortunately my lightning visit to Cape Town is almost at its end. Now all that’s left for me is to tell you in brief about the nightlife. The first night I rolled back to the Waterkant Village accompanied by the crowd I had dinner with, and had a drink at bar-restaurant Manhattan, where the service is excellent. Thereupon the crowd moved to the Bronx. Nicely drunk I was dancing there on music from the eighties, well mixed into a House version. In this bar you’ll find nice rascals, scantily dressed and in the party mood. Also the gym mentality has reached these young people already. The age of the audience varies between approximately seventeen and thirty-five.

The second evening I was talked into a lesbian party at Sliver & Confession. At first I was kindly refused at the door because of my sex, but my press card helped me out. While leaving the club I got an invitation to come by to celebrate the first birthday of Sliver & Confession at my last evening. So dressed up in my party-outfit I arrive for the celebration the next evening. When I enter, I’m receiving a CD by the hostess and she informs me that the today’s “Special” is a pure Vodka for the price of R 18 (E 2.34). The bar staff is scantily dressed, very well styled and in good make-up. They look young but they are very capable in running a bar.

In general the door policy is quite easy going. The big bouncers are also willing to look the other way when you like to do “your business” at the toilet with four other men. Quite tipsy I’m walking back together with my South African local to my residence. It’s going to be the last night, so it has to be a good night. And believe me, it was!




Example

Although it was a short trip with hardly any time to sleep, I have gathered an enormous range of impressions. Apart from the beautiful surroundings, I’m also impressed by the mentality. A country that has only ten years of freedom of sexual preference still organizes many activities to celebrate this fact. On the contrary the Dutch gay scene is at a dead end, and freedom of sexual preferences seems to be out of the question. When we don’t act up and show how proud we are about our existence, we all are going back where we started; in the Closet to be exact. For a long time we’ve been fighting for acceptance; what’s left of all that?



In this case we can see South-Africa as an example; just a short time ago “freedom of sexual preference” was an item of discussion. Besides that, it’s a friendly and amazingly beautiful land, which you really should visit. Here is still cooperation in developing a future and success is granted to a fellow human being. It’s something that’s lacking here in the Netherlands and especially in Amsterdam. So to all the Dutch homosexuals: “Stand up and act up for your rights!” It is not too late yet; so let us honor Pride again and make ourselves strong for who we are, don’t let anybody take away our rights!



 







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